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Picacho Kasiri, South Face

Picacho Kasiri (as defined by the IMG map 5945-II) had looked full of promise when Roberto Gomez and I saw it in mid-July during a traverse of neighboring Pucusani. With unusually dry conditions and warm temperatures prevailing at the start of December, Juan Gabriel Estellano and I decided to investigate Kasiri’s south face.

On December 10 we descended Ruta Nacional 3 from Cumbre Pass to the base of Picacho Kasiri. We walked up a pleasant abandoned mine trail and only needed to ascend scree for the last 50m of altitude gain to reach the foot of the slabby south face.

We climbed toward the left side of the face via an enjoyable corner and reached a large ledge. The cracks further right looked flared, with few opportunities for good protection, so we played it safe and went left again, following another corner toward the west-southwest ridge. Once there we switched to the northwest flank, climbed one more pitch, and then moved together to the summit. On this section we were a little surprised to find three ancient pitons. They were close together and really rusted, probably originating from the 1980s. On top we were greeted by wooden sticks and a rusted tin can. We measured the height at 5,160m.

We climbed nine pitches, and although the difficulties never rose above 6a+, the real challenge was the length of the undertaking: The vertical rise from car to summit had been 950m, and we arrived on top at sunset. We decided to call the route Arajpacha, an Aymara word roughly translating as the world from above, the sky, the future, life.

After enjoying a beautiful view, we then had to make an interesting descent over unknown terrain in the dark, first scrambling down a ridge to the north, then making one rappel to the west, and finally a lot of hiking and scrambling down and around the mountain to reach the Kasiri-Pucusani col. From there we descended south to the car, reaching it at midnight, 16 hours after leaving.

– Alexander von Ungern, Andean Ascents, Bolivia